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1. How can I keep away from lawsuits?

There is no way you can stop someone from suing you. Everyone has a right to file a lawsuit, as long as they submit the proper paperwork to the Court and pay the filing fee.

In business matters, the best way to avoid lawsuits is to have a professionally drawn contract that leaves little or no room for ambiguities. The less ambiguous the contract, the less there is to fight about. Needless to say, in this day and age nobody should rely on verbal contracts if they can help it.

 

2. What if the person is saying things in a lawsuit that are false?

A person can say anything they want to in a lawsuit, because it falls under the "litigation privilege."

However, it is quite a different matter when they have to prove it. The person who starts the litigation by filing the lawsuit (the plaintiff) will have to show the other side (the defendant) that there is merit to the case before a settlement is reached. A case may even reach a full trial. Then, each side must put on its evidence.

If the defendant wins, and it is shown that the plaintiff's case was without merit, the defendant may be able to sue the original plaintiff for malicious prosecution.

 

3. If I am sued, when can I settle the case?

A case can settle at any time. Some people pay a settlement as soon as they learn they have been sued, simply to avoid having to go through the litigation process.

A case may settle literally minutes before trial ("on the Courthouse steps"), or even in the middle of a trial.

 

4. Do I have to go through a trial before a judge and/or jury?

Not necessarily. Sometimes, a written contract between people will state that there must first be arbitration or mediation. Some contracts even try to limit the parties solely to arbitration or mediation (known as "alternate dispute resolution").

However, even if there is no such language, the parties may elect to have the case decided by arbitration or mediation. The procedure does not have to be binding. The parties can still have a trial in Court if one side disagrees with the (non-binding) arbitration decision.

 

5. Do I have to say how much I am suing for when I file my complaint?

Usually, that is not necessary. The more important decision is where to file the complaint. Since the Court system is now unified, there is one Superior Court. There are no longer Municipal Courts. The choice is now between Limited Superior Court and Unlimited Superior Court. The Limited Court handles any cases up to $25,000.00. Any claim above $25,000.00 is filed in the Unlimited Superior Court.

Remember Small Claims Court! This has now assumed more importance, because Individuals can file any claim up to $10,000.00 in the Small Claims Court. This increase from $7,500.00 now opens the door to many more cases in Small Claims Court.

 

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